Saturday Softcover: So much more than a clock…

Easy as A, B, C . . . from HA

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby. Clockwork Three

In 1873, a boy in New York City named Joseph came to the public’s notice when the newspapers told of his story: how he was kidnapped from Italy, brought to the US, and forced to play music on the streets for money. After he escaped, he hid out in Central Park; a kind, old woman found him there and took care of him. When his story was told, the newspapers reported it, and lawmakers found themselves involved. Joseph testified against his “padrone.” As a result, the laws were changed to protect other boys in his situation.

This story, according to the author blurb, was the inspiration for The Clockwork Three.

This book is so much more. It does contain some similarities: one of the “three” is Giuseppe, a street violinist who had been sold by his uncle and forced to play his violin in the streets. He works for a cruel man who has a nest of homeless boys whom he controls through fear (think Fagan, only nastier). They play music on the streets, collect donations for their playing and pay him for the privilege of living in squalor.

After that, the similarities end. Although there is a park… but I’ll leave that for you to find.

Two more main characters enter from separate directions:

Frederick, a young man who had started out in an orphanage several years before, is now a clockmaker’s apprentice; quite a good one. He has dreams of building the ultimate automaton: a robot.

Hannah is a maid at the city’s finest hotel. Her past was much more pleasant than her present. Her father, a renowned stone mason, has suffered a stroke. The family is now destitute and Hannah’s meager salary is the only thing that keeps the family from starving.

Giuseppe is trying to find a way to escape and make his way back to Italy; Frederick is trying to build the head to his automaton that will be functional; Hannah is in search of a treasure supposedly hidden in the hotel by a very rich resident of the hotel, now several years dead.

Our three heroes start in different areas of the city, totally unknown to one another. With each chapter, their fates draw them closer together until, at last, they are partnered in their quests.

Working as a team, they… well, you get the idea. No spoilers today.

This was Matt Kirby’s first novel, published in 2010. I’ve had it on the bookshelf for a while and justMatt Kirby hadn’t gotten around to reading it. I’m sorry I took so long.

It’s written for middle-grade, young adult but is a satisfying read for a… well, let’s just say a not-so-young adult. It’s part mystery, part sci-fi, part steam-punk, part adventure. It’s all entertaining.

Give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

See you day- after- tomorrow for Monday Moans.

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